High Intensity Interval Training for runners has been shown to dramatically improve endurance capacity and performance times. Although the workouts are difficult, the payoff is worth it.
We created block training program comprised off high intensity interval training (HIIT) and low intensity high volume training sessions (HVT). It is a 9 week program involving 2 weeks of HIIT + HVT and 1 rest week, repeated 3 times.
This program is based on the most recent evidence on how to maximise aerobic adaptations and VO2 max in training (Stöggl et al., 2014). Researchers found a huge improvement in VO2 max, peak power/velocity and on race performance.
The heart rate percentages used below are approximate. We recommend you look at the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) chart below to determine how hard you need to run.
High Intensity Interval Training Session (HIIT)
Advanced: 20 minute warm up// 4 x 4 minute intervals at 90-95% HR max // 3 minute rest intervals at 75% HR max // 15 minute cool down. *Warm up and cool down completed at rest interval intensity.
Intermediate: 10 minute warm up // 4 x 2-3 minute intervals at 90-95% HRmax // 4 minute rest intervals at 65-75% HRmax // 10 minute cool down
Low Intensity High Volume Sessions (Slow)
Advanced: 90 minute low intensity (55-80% HRmax). This is a pace where you should be able to hold a conversation without hyperventilating.
Intermediate: 30-90 minute low intensity (55-80% HRmax).
Long Slow Intensity Session (Long)
Advanced: 150-240 minute low intensity (55%-80% HRmax). Include 6-8 maximal sprints of 5s separated by at least 20 minutes.
Intermediate: 90-150 minute low intensity (55% – 80%) HRmax. Include 4-6 maximal sprints of 5s separated by at least 20 minutes.
Rest days are just that, a day for rest. This can be no physical activity at all or it can include walking and other light activities. However, the aim is to give your body time to recover, otherwise overtraining and excess fatigue can occur.
Training Zones and Rate of Perceived Exertion
The table below outlines rate of perceived exertion (RPE) for each training intensity and heart rate zone. You can use RPE to measure intensity of your work out rather than heart rate, as many heart rate monitors are unreliable.
To maximise aerobic gains, it is important to sleep 8-10 hours per night and ensure you are meeting you daily protein and overall energy requirements.
For novice runners or those with limited time, reducing the length of your slow and long slow sessions can be done, however, you will likely see diminished returns.
This program was adapted from a key study by Stoggl et al. (2014). See the reference below for further insight.
Stöggl, T., & Sperlich, B. (2014). Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity, or high volume training. Frontiers in physiology, 5, 33.